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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Russia's European security roadshow in Ukraine

Victor Yanukovych (taller) and Dmitri Medvedev in Moscow on May 8. The Russian president is coming to Kyiv (he calls it Kiev) on May 17. This will be the sixth time the presidents will have met since Yanukovych came to power three months ago. (

Russia’s president is coming to Kyiv to sign a slew of bilateral documents with his Ukrainian counterpart early next week. Some surprises are in store in the realm of European security, according to a Saturday newspaper report. Meanwhile, a Kyiv court has banned protests in the nation’s capital while Dmitri Medvedev is in town.

President Victor Yanukovych continues to bulldoze his version of democracy over Ukraine. Another layer of asphalt will be laid on May 17 and 18 when president Dmitri Medvedev comes to Kyiv. What will his visit bring to Russian-Ukrainian relations? According to Ukraine’s first vice premier Andriy Kluyev, the intergovernmental group is currently working on “ten to twelve” bilateral “documents,” five of which are expected to be signed next week by the two heads of state. The five agreements Kluyev told the Ukrainian parliament about last week concern:

a) the demarcation of the UA-RU border (a prerequisite for UA’s EU membership – like that’s going to happen any time soon)

b) use and development of GLONASS (the Soviet equivalent of GPS)

c) interbank cooperation between Ukreximbank and Vneshtorgbank (UA and RU state banks that handle foreign economic activity)

d) immediate measures for RU-UA scientific and educational cooperation for 2010-2012 (rewriting of Ukrainian history textbooks)

e) program of cooperation between RU-UA ministries of culture 2010-2014 (protection of Russian language that is facing extinction in Ukraine)

But a report in Saturday’s edition of the influential Dzerkalo Tyzhnia cites unnamed sources who claim three additional agreements may be signed by Yanukovych and Medvedev. All three declarations concern regional security in Europe and have not been discussed or debated, let alone disclosed to the public:

f) On European security

g) On Black Sea security

h) On the self-proclaimed breakaway republic of Trans-Dnister

Talk about timing! As the world watches Bangkok, while Brussels’ attention is focused on Athens and Lisbon and Washington stares blankly at Tehran, Moscow convinces Kyiv to dump the Euroatlantic adjective in favour of Eurasian.

Yanukovych is keeping Ukraine’s energy assets off the table for now, according to the report, and the Russians won’t gain control of Ukraine’s oil, gas, nuclear and aviation industries this week. Yanukovych is supposeldy protecting the interests of the oligarchs who backed and continue to back him. Oligarch - not national - interests.

Naturally, official Kyiv wants to make it look like everyone in Ukraine approves of the neo-Soviet lovefest that started with Sevastopol and has secured a court order banning any protests in the nation’s capital while the Kremlin’s chief resident is visiting. Ironically, the Kyiv court cited the Law On Ukraine’s National Security in its written motivation for the protest ban, according to a report on Ukrainska Pravda.

Yanukovych and Medvedev to sign three unannounced joint documents (Dzerkalo Tyzhnia)

Court bans protests during Medvedev’s visit (Ukrainska Pravda)

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